I so hear you, and your struggle with boredom reminds me that it's not only extroverted, performing creatives that run into this -- it will reach all of us at some point, but creatives -- living on a stream of free flowing thoughts and ideas -- probably feel the numbness of boredom more quickly than most.

Thanks for link to Amid Privilege's post. Ironic, isn't it, that I would also feel like I'm "humming along," when I really want to SING? I've definitely noticed this school year that I get more positive feedback when I dress as a modern classic -- bold and polished, and a bit conservative. I'm not sure yet how I feel about this. Like you, I'm so pleased that my wardrobe "works" far better than it ever has. Most of the essentials are covered, yet they lack that extra something: a beautiful fabrication, impeccable tailoring. They're just OK. I have a sinking feeling that, without a model's body or budget, I might get stuck at "good."

So many good thoughts here.....I'll be pondering. For right now, I do feel like I've done well with my loungewear/gear updates. I've made it a goal to be more active, and that's causing me to deliberately stay in clothes that can run through a sun salutation, a short walk, or a few planks, push ups and v-sits. This past year I stopped demoting worn clothes to loungewear, and purchased some flattering track and yoga pants and simple knit tops in more modern fits and colors that make me look as good as possible without makeup. I'm surprised how fab I feel when I slip on my cheetah print slippers!

Thanks for continuing the conversation Suz. And I am flattered that my thoughts sparked more thoughts.

When I think of your outfits, I think it is your use of color, cut and footwear that add the statement factor. You are not afraid to add striking colors. You are not shy about modern silhouettes, and you also have interesting footwear. Your Zara brogues are an example of a statement piece, while keeping true to your love of classic style.

My challenge will be to add more statement pizazz to my work outfits, I am again feeling more interested in this because we're slowing down so I have time to care. When I'm running ragged 6 days a week, long hours, a FFBU-niform works.

I used to have more smart casual dressing opportunities here in my small town without going to the city. But my lifestyle is changing, and I do not have as many of these as I used to. But things might change come November due to a schedule change. It's made me realize that I miss having more frequent, or at least weekly, excuses to look nice or at least, wear high heels.

Thanks for weighing in here! Such good thoughts to ponder and you are all helping a lot.

Denise, you are right -- currently my use of colour, cut, and footwear is pretty much what adds any statement -- but it's not completely working for me. And the dependence on footwear is partly why, since I don't wear shoes in the house apart from WIW photos, LOL. Beth Ann may have a solution -- cheetah print slippers!!

Beth Ann, I am sure you look a heck of a lot better than you give yourself credit for. Let's see some of those supposedly "okay" outfits!! I am certain you are going to get to POW fantastic, because we are going to do it together.

Diane — yes, I think Una’s on to something. I don’t actually reach for the same old thing every day, but I do reach for the same formula.

I hear you, BJ1111! Scarves are definitely my reviled swede even if they make a statement.

Aubergine, what you say makes a ton of sense. Most dresses probably do fall into the “regular” category. When I did my closet analysis, almost all my dresses were regulars. I tend to pick a lot of regular items also, left to my own devices. And when I am picking them, I may even see them as “statements.” Because my nature is not to state anything too loudly, know what I mean?

rabbit, I love what you add about workhorses — some being statements and some being essentials. I absolutely have items like that, too. A couple of tops that I almost never wear but that are required to make outfits work. A scenic print tee that makes a big statement yet functions so well it mixes in and becomes a workhorse.

Your thoughts about items that make us feel powerful and wonderful are also illuminating. Yet (so far) my splurges have still been essentials or at most regulars. It could be that my closet was so barren I really could not justify less practical purchases. But honestly, I imagined those beautiful chelsea boots giving me that feeling more than any heels would — and they do! Because I wear them more often. In the end, this might come down to temperament, background, etc. It's really, really hard for me to let go of a practical, frugal upbringing and the idea that splurging on "fancy" and "useless" items of clothing is bad. I can internally justify the splurge on something I'll wear a lot (like jeans) -- because, opposite to what you say, I have experienced how much better they fit, look, and make me feel. But I have trouble shelling out for items I won't wear often.

Oddly enough, the few times in my life that I have done it, I have not regretted it in the least and loved and babied those barely worn beauties!

As for simplicity and cost, don’t even get me started — I could not agree more.

Elly, I love my essentails, too. I just don’t love a closet of them and nothing else. I completely agree about varied silhouettes though, and have identified that this is why winter dressing feels harder for me (in addition to the length of the season). It’s much harder to vary the silhouette.

Really good idea bout paying attention to the details and maybe elevating essentials to regulars.

I do what you suggest re jackets, coats, ets — but this still leaves me bored while I am at home, LOL.

Lisa, I need more of your “statements.” I should come visit your closet just to make sure I recognize what one is. it’s hard for me to see them, let alone buy them. Honestly — my eyes just veer past any luxury super high end dramatic pieces. It’s like I don’t deserve them. Thank you for those sweet compliments, though. I am not sure that it’s quiet confidence guiding my choices — it might be dogged practicality!

Adelfa — it sounds as if you have found wardrobe nirvana! I loved the view of your room, too!
I am thinking of your summer outfits, though — and how many of them shone especially bright because of those Okalas — statement shoes.

Ummlila, I will be out there with you on the slipper hunt, wearing one of my (many) grey sweaters, LOL!

Caro, thanks for that proportion breakdown. It is really helpful. I think one problem I have is that a lot of my toppers (and even tops) are essentials.

Isabel, it’s no wonder you felt lost for a while. You have undergone so much in the last few years! Wow. It’s wonderful to hear that things are better and your wardrobe has led the way! As for not boring easily — as long as I am learning, I don’t, either. But when I stop learning (and start repeating a lot) — ugh.

Shevia, yes — it is interesting to think about the question within each category. Good point.

Well, I've been reading these threads with great interest, and have been trying to process them and figure out how it applies to me and my own wardrobe and style struggles. I've had an excrutiatingly busy couple of days, so haven't had any chance to write anything... just sneaking reads in on my phone :).

Now the big question is WHICH thread to actually write on!

While I was having children, and for 5-6 years afterwards, I think I wore mainly essentials. With some statement footwear and jewellery thrown in. It was easy, and I looked perfectly presentable. Then I got bored, and started purchasing things that fit, were different for me, but weren't necessarily GOOD for me. Then I went through the DYT process and discovered what WAS good for me, which was a total eye opener. Many of my clothes were intuitively right, but many were wrong, esp the new ones :(.

So then I went on a shopping spree, which has lasted pretty much two years now. I have more confidence in what looks good, am well stocked (and bored) with essentials, so as a result I think I have been buying a lot of statement pieces. So this totally explains why, when I get dresed in the morning, I still stand in front of my closet and feel "I have nothing to wear!!".

When I read Angies's thread about keeping essentials current, at first I thought "yes! that's it" then I was filled with dread, as I realized just how MANY of my essential probably need replacing. Like Sveta and others, I also like to vary my silouette, so this is compounded. But I also have "too much stuff", so perfaps employing this way of thinking will help me really hone in on what essentials are most important, and do some selective upgrading of them.

It's all such a process, isn't it. thanks Angie, Suz and many many others for sharing your thoughts etc to keep the lightbulbs popping!

Elizabeth, I think that's where systems like the Vivienne files' "core of four" can be helpful. You've already honed your colour palette pretty well. So then it is a question of identifying four key pieces in your core neutrals. Those are the truly essential essentials, if you know what I mean!

I don't really follow her system and wouldn't choose the same kinds of pieces as "core." But I do probably unconsciously cleave to something similar. My core neutrals are navy or ink, taupe, grey, and winter white.

To me essentials are safe (I even believe that you can wear the same essential LBD to a number of functions because no one comments on it or remembers it). I have very few statement pieces because to me they require me to put myself out there: if no one comments on it, I feel like it may have been a wardrobe fail. I am pretty introverted (note how little I comment on threads) and statement pieces often end up being too bold for me.

Suz, what a wonderful thread! I've been reading this while drinking my morning coffee. First things first, though, and dear girlfriend, you are NOT dull as dust! Interesting, fascinating, wonderful with words, a fashion rock star - yes! That is you.

I don't see your essentials as boring, I see them as stunning. An outfit of well made, great fitting essentials to me adds up to a gorgeous statement. Do you/can you have statement pieces within your essentials? For example, I consider my blazers to be essential, but my Boston BCBG blazer is a statement. I also see some of your "essentials" working as statements simply by way of their color, cut and design.

I too get bored easily, but I enjoy having many essential pieces because it makes it so easy to get dressed in the morning, and getting out the door early is a priority for me. I find that when I plan my outfits in advance (I try to take the time on the weekend to plan for the upcoming week), I purposefully look through my closet to find and add a statement piece/something interesting to my outfit. I'll add it by way of a fun color or pattern, a piece of jewelry, a belt, a scarf, or shoes (I like the suggestion of fun slippers!).

Acceptance really is key. In my fantasy life I would dress like Carrie Bradshaw - at times girly girl, at times funky, but always in haute couture! And hey wait a sec, re that, you said "It's like I don't deserve them." WOW that hit home with me. I often feel the same way. But then Angie and the Boston Experience pops into my head. If there's one thing I learned in Boston, it's that Angie would look you straight in the eyes and reply with something like, "What do you mean you don't deserve this? You are a wonderful person and you deserve all things wonderful."

Awww, Karen -- we need to get together again in person very soon! (By the way, how is that foot of yours??? And how is the learning curve? I want to see your latest outfits!)

I also think that you might have hit on something with the planning. Maybe I'm not planning quite enough. I usually like my travel outfits better and they are more carefully planned. Mind you, they also include more statement items.

Sadie, you are so right -- clothes can help us fade into the background or stand out.

Suz- I hear you on the travel outfits. Not only are they more carefully planned, but most of those outfits are in the "revving up" category. Une Femme had a post dedicated to dressing like a "stylish traveller" (rather than trying hopelessly to blend in with locals). So unless it's a sports activity like hiking, most of my travel outfits are stepped up notch.

Ok I have read this thread again. I think you can be a very interesting dresser if you wear only essentials but maybe that comes more easily when you are wearing very, very well made and well fitting essentials. The idea of strict dressing, which was once discussed here comes to mind. On the other hand, quality essentials can also allow more leeway for flash in the pan statement pieces that may be bought to ride a trend without the expectation they will be worn often or over a long period. I am still working this out in my mind, but, with some exceptions, I do think our overall style is defined more by our essentials than our statements.
Which is not to say I don't think you should wear some statement pieces while working at home - I am completely in favor of that!

Suz, I so identifies with what you wrote here. I enjoyed reading Privilege's break down of degrees of casual. It is an interesting question you pose. How to dress simply, without fuss, stylishly, and without becoming bored? And without breaking the bank, as Tanya cleverly brings up?

To me "essentials" are pieces that would remain if I had to plan an emergency travel capsule. Pieces that will facilitate - or allows - outfit building, within my own personal style. Pieces that work in color and shape with many other garments and footwear. Pieces I currently enjoy wearing either because of comfort or fun factor.

I love Angie's comment on acceptance, because it's so true, and also difficult to do. And Rabbit is so right in pointing out that "essentials" do not necessarily correspond to "wear".

Some of my essentials come from high end stores, others from Costco!

I think like Angie that our essentials need getting some attention and TLC. Essential can be exciting to wear if they are varied enough, and if their shape and color respond to these principles: comfortable, practical and reflecting one's personal style.

Suz - just to clarify something: in no way does a statement piece need to be a "super high end luxury " item - and that's not what I mean Those examples I listed include things from all price ranges. I can't afford a wardrobe of luxury goods either - but will buy the occasional - very occasional - luxury accessory as a statement piece. They have always paid for themselves in terms of CPW.

Just a short chime in to say this thread has been a delight, and thanks to Una's musings in particular, I am on the road to acceptance that I might be a "Surfer Girl". Very happy about that.

I need to come back to this thread Suz! But I already have a lot of AHA moments reading the first few posts!

Really great thread. The side comments about travel capsules got me thinking. Next time I go on a long-ish trip I will try to be really focused on essentials (albeit my most chic essentials that make me feel most me) and leave behind all but a few statement pieces. My last trip had too many statements and not enough mix-and-match options.

Hmmm---- Suz, I think this is a challenge because you know which shillouttes and colors and styles you like, but that it isn't working for you at home. What makes a good backdrop for someone with a modern classic style isn't cutting it at home without the "aww-factor" pieces (and maybe without some of the structure belts, bags, shoes, and jackets provide). Have you considered exploring more indoor jackets in comfy fabrics? I never wore jackets indoors until I worked this job where I'm always cold, and with the right jackets and a little trial and error I've found them comfy to work in---- a nice thick knit moto in a sleek style might layer over button downs the same way a cardi would and a coated or stretchy denim jacket might be almost as comfy over a pullover. Have you revisited track pants? There are now so many other fabrications available that it would give you another bottom silhouette to mix with skinnies, BFs, and ponte pants/leggings. I could see you in ponte leggings and a cocoon shaped turtleneck dress/tunic at home. Maybe this is where you need to bring in your "arty" side with some really artfully draped cardigans or pullovers. They don't have to be "crafty". Maybe you need another pair of statement specs or another statement watch to switch up. I am not a big jewelry wearer, but stud earrings and something on my wrist always makes me feel put together at home. Weirdly a really beautiful mug to keep my beverage in has a similar effect.

If I worked from home I would have several pairs of fab slippers and would wear a lot of textures and patterns --- I' could see you definitely mixing your merino, percale and denim with oxford cloth, bouclé, washed silk, fluffy sweaters (alpaca or poly nylon), coated fabrics, flannel, subtle mini-print blouses, graphic tops, and printed pants. I could really see you in statement belts.

I've been reading this thread with interest too since I also work at home and live such a casual lifestyle. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just being ridiculous for wanting to be more "fashionable." But I enjoy it so, I just can't help but be interested in it.

I really like what Shevia said:
I think you can be a very interesting dresser if you wear only
essentials but maybe that comes more easily when you are wearing very,
very well made and well fitting essentials. ........................... I do think our overall style is
defined more by our essentials than our statements.

The woman who *always* wears distressed jeans. The one who always wears black. The one who always wears dresses. The one who always wears scarves. Etc. (*always* meaning most of the time you see them).

Unless you have a really big style personality and wear extravagant statement pieces, I wonder if some of our statement pieces are sort of missed by others?

I must certainly be the tee shirts and jeans/shorts girl - or maybe even more the "nature" girl. I guess I could add button downs to that. So maybe like Tanya, I guess ideally I'd like to have an Essential wardrobe of all perfect 10's - tees, button downs and jeans/shorts for me in various styles, colors and fabric weight. I have been working towards that goal. I think I *want* to be able to just grab something that is really comfortable and comforting to me to put on AND look great in it.

Some of my belts are statement pieces (to me) but not sure if they are even noticed by others. And my bracelets might be a statement, but again, not sure how many others really notice. In fact, my statements are so subtle I'm not sure if they even count in the fashion world. My hair is a statement.

My white UGG slip ons felt like a small statement piece at first (I hadn't worn white shoes in a very long time) - but now I've worn them so much (even bought a backup pair) that they have become essentials.

Suz, don't think I didn't reply to this thread because I didn't see it. I read it and thought about it so much on Sunday that I couldn't figure out a way to clarify my thoughts and get them down. Today I'm starting over, and first I will reply directly to your post, before I get lost down the wonderful rabbit trails that are the comments.

First of all, I always think you look great, but I understand that you need all kinds of outlets for your creativity. I wonder what is up with your at-home style? At least you can wear wider legged pants and jeans when you're not going out in the snow. Maybe you need to add in another silhouette or two. Nothing wrong with that (or a cranberry streak in your hair like Angie suggested). Maybe creating a few opportunities to work from a cafe each week would spice things up a bit for you. Like you, I'm not inclined to wear purely decorative accessories around the house, especially if they feel distracting or like they will interfere with my work or movement. But I can see how an essential top plus jeans plus belt (no shoes or jacket) can feel like the same old thing, day after day. I'll be staying tuned to see how you work out this dilemma.

For me, I'm wondering if I should have any essentials at all? With only 10 items of stand-alone clothing and a small footwear capsule, perhaps I should stop duplicating altogether, even if the colors are different. At present, I'm really wishing that I had another jeans cut besides skinny and another shoe style besides a ballet flat.

Okay, now I'm going to read back through the comments and see if I have anything to add. This was (is!) such a good thread!

Okay, now to type the novel I have jotted down on post-it notes, lol!

How about an ear cuff?! Could you tolerate one of those?

There is something about a high quality essential that shines a little more brightly to me than one done up in moderate quality. If we could afford to dress in head-to-toe, impeccable, luxurious, high quality essentials, would that be a striking look, or a plain one? Or would it be "strict" as Shevia mentions?
The main character in a movie is often presented like this, and I am always mesmerized by it. Or am I mesmerized her portrayal of the character? Or by her celebrity-grade facial beauty? Perhaps the plainer we are the more interest our outfits require (not talking about you here, dear Suz!).

Google does not know what a "reviled swede" is, nor do I, but by the context I assume it would mean hated but useful? My denim skirt (freshly rescued again from the donate pile and worn for the last two days straight) would definitely fall into that category.

I could really identify with your statement:
It's really, really hard for me to let go of a practical, frugal upbringing and the idea that splurging on "fancy" and "useless" items of clothing is bad.

I would add to that (for me) purely decorative accessories. It's not just a frugal upbringing I'm dealing with, but a frugal and unfancy lifestyle. My practical streak is a necessity, and probably always will be, and that's okay. I do want to add some modern elements in, but I can't afford to be completely frivolous about it.

For now, my boring at-home wear (yoga pants and a fleece jacket in Winter) provides a stark back drop against which my (slightly more) exciting street clothes can shine. Maybe that's why I don't get bored of my small wardrobe, because I have that contrast? Or maybe I just don't bore as easily.

I do tire of things, but I think that's different from boredom. If an item suddenly stops working for my style (because my inherent look is changing) or it begins to look cheap or shabby (maybe I'm just wearing it out?), then I find myself tiring of it--quickly sometimes. This is probably less from boredom and more "it was never right in the first place". Tough to own up to, but often the case for me.

If something is beautiful, well-made of good quality fabric, is in a flattering cut and color and suits my style, I'm not likely to get bored of it, no matter how much I wear it.

Okay, the sun is going down and it's finally cool enough to walk. Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest!

Claire, a swede is a rutabaga. not a yummy veg for me. similarly, shopping/wearing essentials are about as exciting as a rutabaga.

BJ: Hahahaha! So glad we weren't dissing a people of a certain nationality! Whew.

ETA: Try mashing them in with your potatoes. Rutabagas are delicious that way. Copious amounts of roasted garlic don't hurt either.

WOW, Claire , ".....a frugal and unfancy lifestyle" . How true that is. That phrase hit me like a rutabaga in the forehead. That is so true for me. As life becomes more "casualized" ( is that a word ? ), there are fewer opportunities to dress a certain way. I also think that we are in such a rush all the time that it makes it difficult. For example : cleaning, cooking, change to get son at school, go to drum lessons, swing by Target or grocery store or pharmacy, come home, finish dinner, clean up, do homework. It would be nice to dress a little better to go to the store but sometimes there is no time. With that said, I feel really good in my straight leg jeans and a cashmere and some sort of topper. It seems to take me anywhere that I need to go without looking "too-too" , as we say here in the NE but I still feel presentable. The added dimension for me is the frugality. I don't want an extravagant lifestyle. I don't want to shop all the time or do loads and loads of laundry. I want as much discretionary money as possible to go to my kids' college funds. I don't want to be careless with the environment. ( Those are my values, I am not expecting them of anyone else ) . I am going to put that phrase on my mirror to remind me everyday that is my life ! And I like it. : )

Laughing with you here. I actually love rutabaga!! And (high quality) essentials. So I probably should have altered the analogy a bit.

For me, scarves are the....hmmm....I'm not sure. They're essential....but also a statement. A statement I don't really want to make! Ugh. I was going to say "cabbage" (they are all layered like that, too) -- but I actually like cabbage. Then again, I only like it if I don't have to eat it too often, which does correspond to my feeling about scarves exactly!

Claire, thank you so much for adding your thoughts here. I am with you on the purely decorative accessories, too. Maybe that is why I've never really been a jewellery girl, and haven't really been a bag lady, either, although I seem to be changing on that score, probably because bags can be useful if you pick well.

I'm starting to wonder if "boredom" is even the right word for what I feel with my at home winter wear. Whatever it is, I don't feel it at all in summer. I was more than happy with my summer closet. I'm trying now to work out why.

Texstyle, you are saying something very interesting here. I think it is along the lines of a "signature" style. And I do feel, on some deep level, that if we work out our signature style, we may not feel bored by wearing it (in slight variations) -- sort of like Emmanuel Alt. I have this intuition that it would be true for me, anyway. But that style would need to combine the right elements -- the right balance of essentials (nice quality, I hope) and statements. And I still haven't found that yet.

I do think -- as you and Claire and Ingunn do -- that for some of us "statements" can be quiet. What counts as a "statement" in one style would barely even register in another. Say, your bracelets, or my belts.

Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughts. I'll start a new thread soon about casual statements.

Is there an equivalent to 'speak your truth? Something like 'wear your truth'? That's what I get from what both Suz and Claire have written about the role of classic essentials for them. There is an integrity in the styles they are drawn to that works with both their lifestyle, values (in the way the term is used in this thread), and aesthetic preferences. I respect that. In my field there is a tradition of hand-thrown pottery -- tea bowls and the like, that place very high value on traditional, simple, minimalist craftsmanship and aesthetics and the process of making and using. I respect that tradition.

While I also live a frugal and unfancy lifestyle (I bought my first purse to hold my coupon binder), and don't want to expand in number of items, or in overall budget past certain parameters, tea bowls aren't my thing, contemporary sculptures are. I want to get as playful, as varied, as experimental (mostly within my zone of comfort), as possible. I want to brainstorm, I want to test, I want to sketch and finger-paint with clothes. I don't want to wear the same outfit again if there is an opportunity to discover something new with what I have in my closet instead. This might change and settle over time, although if I look at my life history with how I acquire and integrate new clothing, I've always done this.

The ironic flipside of the economics of clothes at retail and second-hand right now might be that it's probably easier in some ways to dress in statements spending less, then to afford the highest quality essentials, unless one is really committed to minimalism in number of items. That's okay, I don't want to be Emmanuelle Alt, she's already doing her, I'll do me instead.

ETA: I have another collection of thoughts swimming around in my head, maybe material for a different thread, but I'm thinking about low-brow fashion - street fashion, thrift/normcore, and the low-brow art movement. There is a conflicted part of me that questions aspirational fashion and the whole idea of trying to look like my clothing is classy or expensive or impeccable -- which isn't exactly who I am.

Ah, rabbit! I think my problem is that I want to do both!! I want the simple, minimal, strict -- and the playful!


Suz-- you need a poncho - thingy. In whatever iteration is most you.
-- it's a statement
-- it works with lots of essentials- requires them, even
-- is comfortable enough for at- home, and for indoors winter, adjusting the underlayers for how warm you run and how warm is the poncho item, how open , neckline, etc
-- the right one could transition out of home, ? Under a puffer? Or could just be an at- home statement.

I'm re-reading this from the bottom-up, because I chipped in on this one earlier but because it's so interesting, I like to see what everyone has to say here. Throwing rutabagas at your forehead aside (and, for the record, I HATE turnips and rutabagas) , Isabel, you articulate so well what I feel too. If I have a fantastic cashmere sweater , jeans (who cares what label ) and loafers on, I feel like I can take over the world running my errands - even if the world is Target.

Well, I have to admit, Isabel and Lisa, that wearing my cashmere tee the other day felt like heaven. And I was all ready to rush out and duplicate it. So maybe the secret is a luxury uniform. With weekend poncho! (Thanks, unfrumped).

Actually, ponchos are really hard. The length can be tricky for my proportions, for one thing. And for another, most are made out of fabrics that are meant for outdoor wear -- so too heavy indoors in my climate, but not at all warm enough outdoors. But maybe a cashmere wrap thing like Ingunn has -- similar idea.